A Thought on The Monkees and The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
by Fred Velez
With the announcement of the nominees for induction into the 2016 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the topic of the Monkees in the RRHOF has turned up yet again. So, I guess I’ll have to venture my thoughts on the subject, again.
As a fan who has followed the Monkees from the beginning and has worked with several members of the group in different capacities, including helping out on one of the late Davy Jones’ books and being fully aware of the Monkees achievements as both a group and as solo artists, as well as having written a book on the group, my personal opinion is that the Monkees are more than qualified and deserving for inclusion into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, both for their hits as well and their television series which showed the incredible media impact television had on the music buying public, first evident with Ricky Nelson and years before the advent of MTV, which Michael Nesmith is acknowled as an early creator of the concept.
And of the group members that should be in as a solo artist, Michael Nesmith has proven many times over that he is definitely deserving of the honor as both an early pioneer in the field of Country Rock, as well as an early visionary trailblazer in the field of music video, having earned the distinction of being the very first major music artist to win a Grammy Award for Music Video.
Having said that and as much as I feel the Monkees deserve to be inducted, I’ve also come to the philosophical conclusion that it is extremely unlikely they will ever be in the RRHOF. Even though several Rock journalists are reevaluating their opinions on the Monkees, especially in the advent of their 50th anniversary in 2015, there is still too much of a prejudice against the group due to I feel of a lack of understanding of their impact as a Pop phenomena. They were not only an early influence on Country Music due to Nesmith’s contributions, but they brought some musical innovations as well, being among the first musical artists to introduce a Moog onto a Pop/Rock record. And I already mentioned the impact their show would have on outlets like MTV decades later.
Another thing going against the Monkees is the political nature that has pretty much influenced the RRHOF induction process. In the Hall’s early years those who were inducted were fully recognized for their influence and contributions to the field of Rock and Pop, so it was a forgone conclusion that artists like Elvis, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, Little Richard would get in, with the Beatles, Stones, Kinks, The Who, Beach Boys, Elton John, Bruce Springsteen and others following close behind.
After those group of artists were included, things got a little dicier when the induction ceremony went from a private affair to a televised show like the Oscars and the Tonys. In order to insure a large audience viewing that would attract major advertisers to purchase coveted advertising space, there was less an inclination to focus on the deserving pioneers and artists who’ve made significant contributions in the field of Rock and Pop music, towards a more commercial, general audience friendly “show” that would draw large numbers that would please the advertisers. Thus you have artists like Madonna or Public Enemy whose Rock credentials are questionable to say the least, earning induction before or inspite of more deserving artists.
I consider it a shame and an outrage on the Hall’s part that it took so long for George Harrison and the Dave Clark Five to be inducted so late, especially during the time period when Harrison and some members of the DC5 were still alive to be able to personally accept their honors. Mike Smith, the voice on the DC5 hits, had suffered a tragic accident which left him paralyzed and he was anxiously looking forward to attending when he tragically passed away just days before the induction ceremony.
Because of the politics that currently permeates the Hall, I hold little hope that the Monkees will ever get in and I don’t intend to hold my breath waiting. I’m quite satisfied that the group have been recognized and inducted into the American Pop Music Hall of Fame, which encourages votes by fans, and that they are in the same company as the Beatles, Stones, Buddy Holly, Elvis and many other artists who are also in the RRHOF. That’s good enough for me.
I wish good luck to the artists who have been nominated and I will be rooting for Cheap Trick and The Cars, and note that besides the Monkees, Harry Nilsson has been passed over yet again.
Maybe next year? We’ll see.
Fred Velez, 2015.
Fred Velez is the author of ‘A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You: The Monkees From A Fan’s Perspective’ and the Monkees themed Holiday CD ‘A Little Bit Christmas’.